Thanksgiving brings lots of things, feasts, Turkey Trots, football and parades, and, of course, lots and lots of heavy traffic.

The highways and freeways will be crowded as nearly 42 million drivers nationwide will take to the roads between Tuesday and Sunday, the most in the past seven years according to AAA.

With roads congested, packing patience is a must, says AAA President and CEO Marshall Doney. And picking the right time to leave can make all the difference in the world as to whether things go smooth or bring on a traffic jam- induce a migrate headache.

You are in charge of the first item, but as to when to go? A couple of traffic apps - Waze and Google Maps - have figured that out for us.

Thankfully, Minneapolis-St. Paul did not show up on Google's list of cities with the worst Thanksgiving traffic (the worst are Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and San Francisco if that's your destination). But the Twin Cities will have its fair share.

Motorists looking to escape the madness ought to leave on Monday, or wait until the Thursday holiday itself when traffic will be the lightest, according Waze, which made its assessment based on a data analysis of 2014 traffic patterns and reports from the 70,000 drivers in the metro area who use to the real-time navigation app.

Friday is pretty good, too, unless you pass an outlet mall or electronics store where throngs on deal-dashing expeditions could lead to a cluster, Waze said.

By far, Wednesday will be the worst day to travel. The best advice is to leave before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m. Waze said. Google Maps, with its vast arsenal of data over the past three years, concurred.

Both tech giants say the outlook for Tuesday isn't much better. "We find people taking Wednesday as an additional day, so we find people leaving Tuesday, "said Waze spokeswoman Meghan Kelleher.

Traffic volumes start to pick up around noon and build right through the rush hour and into the evening, she said. Tuesday is tough, especially between 4 and 6 p.m., as holiday travelers mingle with commuter traffic.

Thursday should see the lightest levels of traffic, but do expect lots of activity between noon and 2. Outside those hours, traffic "should be a breeze" Google said.

Of course, holiday travel is seldom one way. The return trip can be dicey, but there is a difference in opinion of when to go back home. Saturday traffic can be 40 percent worse than Sunday or the day after Thanksgiving, according to Google.

But Sunday's no picnic either says Waze's Kelleher, who called Sunday the "absolute worst" day of the weekend. Either way, leave before 10 a.m. or wait until evening. Stay off the road during the middle part of either day.

Locally, traffic promises to be thickest on popular getaway routes such as I-94 to the east and west, and I-35 to the north and south during peak times. Avoiding freeways won't mean a faster or hassle-free trip. Alternate routes are just that. Savvy motorists know ways to get around known bottlenecks, but there are no undiscovered routes. Others know the secrets, too.

Whether traveling near or far, be sure to keep focused of driving, Doney said.

"If you are the driver, designate a passenger as your official text messenger and navigator.” he said.

Airports tend to be jammed during the Thanksgiving weekend. AAA estimates that 3.6 million people will fly over the course of the five-day holiday period.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport tends not to be as busy as other airports during Thanksgiving holiday period as many make their escape during MEA weekend in October, airport spokesman said Patrick Hogan.

With business travel on the light side, on-site parking generally is not a problem, he said.

Nonetheless, travelers should still arrive 90 minutes early as security lines tend to move slowly as many inexperienced travelers and those families with children flying.


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